A Few Poems For You

I spent a few early mornings bent over an ancient typewriter, one I purchased for $15 at a thrift shop two years back. I cleaned the thing up and replaced the ribbon. I’ve been good to it.

In turn, it has been good the me — the typewriter, that is.

Heck, I even wrote my first professional story sale on the thing, before typing it into Word Doc. I call my typewriter “the poetry machine” because it’s perfect for writing poetry, especially at 4 AM, when my analytical mind dissolves and the subconscious takes over. The following poems are a result of a few uneasy, restless mornings. Writing them provided me comfort and joy, and I hope they do the same for you.

BEATING THE CLOCK

I am enraged by death;

I was born with a desire

to go on living beyond my years.

I am an absurd man;

A contrarian to this insensitive universe

which does not take my feelings

into account.

I am the universe.

I take my feelings into account.

My feeling is,

I don’t wanna die.

Life is a fading polaroid —

soon there will be no family

or even very distant relatives

to appreciate it.

Why do people

even take pictures?

Because they think

they’ll be remembered —

but nothing is remembered.

We are doomed to amnesia, and then

there is no ‘we’.

I am enraged by death —-

Can’t you drink to that?

Can’t you understand?

Mortality burns

and we are demanded to love it,

or deny it.

I am writing myself

into the grave,

only hoping to beat the clock.

I am pitting against

Grim Reality;

but at least for now,

you are reading this, gentle reader —-

And I have temporarily stolen Death’s scythe.

DRUNK ON POEMS

A good poem

gets you drunk

without even a stiff beverage

to touch your lips.

That is why

the best poems

are written with spirits.

Multitudinous

One moment,

I am a logical skeptic

without patience for your

silly wool-eyed superstitions.

The next,

I am a devoted mystic,

summoning spirits

at the typewriter

and cursing the muse

when she does not sprinkle her dream-dust

upon my weary, aching, grasping mind.

Restless Writers

Restless energy.

I overeat.

Chew fingernails.

Drink ten gallons of black coffee.

Devour myself.

Yet the best method

for dispelling this slow torture

of displaced being

is to write out the pain —

write out the numb agony

the solitude

and the jitters —

write until

my nerves cease to quake

my brain ceases to boil

my legs cease to kick

and a smile of ease breathes

satisfaction upon my face

and my heart whispers to me,

‘thank you’.

Feeding the Monster

There are nights when I feel

that weary ache in mind and flesh

and am only soothed

by feeding another piece of paper

into the typewriter’s bale.

And I get that sick, lovely feeling

I am feeding a monster.

Can you not hear this

feral growl of my soul?

This poem stares back at you

with hungry crimson eyes.

Unbeknown to you,

gentle reader, you have fed

this crazed, lonesome 4AM poet.

This is fine —-

For we all have monsters to feed.

Productivity

The sound

of

productivity:

CLICK CLACK

CLACK CLICK

CLACK CLICK

CLICK CLACK.

Soothing

as the swell

of ocean tides.

Perfect

as a three-part

harmony:

my hands,

my typewriter,

my open, boundless heart.

A Clever State of Mind

Good writing

is just a clever state of mind.

A shame writers are stupid

most of the time.

But they try, damn it.

I try too, however —-

cleverness, for most

is fleeting at best.

I can feel it leaving already.

And for those who will say

‘you never had it’,

I respond in kind —-

to Hell with you!

After I die,

they can weigh my soul

in the pages I wrote.

Bet it’ll weigh a damn ton.

A Confession About Poets

Poets are liars.

I don’t mean to sound

dramatic — it’s just true.

I know because

I used to be a poet.

What you are reading now,

is simply honesty and

an attempt at humanness.

It may or may not be poetry.

Most poets are liars.

They try to tell the truth, maybe,

but they just don’t know how —

and they end up writing stuff

that looks like poetry

but isn’t.

Being honest is being human.

Notice how the best poems are honest.

The best poems are vulnerable.

They read like beautiful blood —

Someone’s soul dancing upon the page.

That is poetry,

and for those daring enough

to share themselves —-

not just a pose of themselves,

is a poet.

Someone bring out

those lush green Laurel leaves,

and be prepared to wait

a long, long time.

It Will Be Winter Soon (A Poem For the Darker Half of the Year)

It will be winter soon.

The cold has arrived, and

ominous white flakes

float the breeze,

like ash on the wind

in Pompeii.

It will be winter soon.

So suffocate your houses

with plastic sheets,

and tack on the lath.

Wrap your windows like Christmas

presents for the dead.

It will be winter soon.

It may come tomorrow,

or it may arrive in

the dead of night.

But when comes, it will be

ivory as bleached bones.

It will be winter soon.

The roads will be choked

with barrels of salt.

Better put chains on those tires.

Better keep some blankets in the back.

Lest you want to curl up with old man Winter . . .

It will be winter soon.

The barren branches stretch

and grasp at the dead white sky.

Tiny flakes drift down like

perfect feathers tickling the ground.

A snowflake is a still drop in an frozen sea.

It will be winter soon.

And the rust never sleeps.

It will eat through your cars.

It will eat through your flesh.

It will sink teeth in your lily white ankle

in December and not let go ’til Spring.

It will be winter soon.

Some of the old shall be snapped,

like a frozen-through pine.

It will put a stop to the young

with a sudden glare of black ice

shining ‘neath a frozen sun.

It will be winter soon.

Haul out the shovels,

and prepare your back for breaking.

Put up a Christmas tree, dazzle your wits

with electric lights and exclaim that they

are better than the sun.

It will be winter soon.

The stars shall shine beautiful,

yet indifferent. People will stay

in their beds and make babies.

Because if it is death outside,

We strive for life inside.

It will be winter soon.

Time for holly jolly.

Time for good cheer.

Because the weatherman says,

all clocks stop now —

Old Man Winter is here.

 

 

Copyright 2019. Tylor James.

Halloween – A Personal Essay

Halloween is the one time of year when everybody lets their freak flag fly — without shame or inhibition. When skeletons, zombies and witches parade the leaf-strewn streets and conglomerate upon doorsteps, grinning beneath grotesque masks, posing that timeless benevolent threat:

Trick or treat?

Halloween/autumn is my favorite time of year. It always has been. I enjoy it so much that the Halloween spirit remains within me all year round — bubbling inside the discombobulated contents of my cranium-cauldron.

When October 31st approaches, it’s as if the world has at last accepted me with open arms. These ghouls, skeletons, zombies, witches, mummies, warlocks, extra-terrestrials, demons, ghosts — they are outsiders, just like me! The wide gulf between myself and society has dissipated, if only during the month of October.

Halloween. All Hallows Day. Samhain. Dia de los Muertos. One may know it by many names, yet the main themes remain constant, like a Jungian archetype. Let us pose one of these ‘main themes’ in the following question:

In what other time of year does the world so laughingly, so light-heartedly, embrace the concept of death?

This is what I suspect, on a subconscious level, we are doing when we celebrate Halloween. Although the average citizen will admit to merely being interested in dressing up, trick or treating, playing games, and enjoying parties — there is, I believe, something grander happening on a deeper level.

Look all around you. Feast your eyes upon the paper skeletons in the drug store window. The great orange jack-o-lanterns upon your neighbor’s doorstep. Behold their yellow glowing expressions! Some of them are full of menace and fright, others of laughter. Hear the children going door to door, chiming and knocking and begging for candy. Only when you look at them, you catch yourself looking twice! They’re hardly children at all. They’re ghouls, vampires, witches – in short, they are mystical, dead things walking the streets.

These disguises are symbols of death. When we put on a mask, wear a costume, or apply face paint, we are entertaining the idea of our demise. We are overcoming the fear that lies deep down within the psyche of every human being. We are embracing that fear, while elevating it with laughter and joy. For once, death sits lambasted upon our shoulders and is rallied through the city streets like a champ!

Remember: one cannot be scared of monsters if one, at least temporarily, becomes a monster. What concept does the monster tease the children with while lurking beneath their bed, threatening to grab their ankles?

Death, of course. Always death.

And as children and adults alike dress-up as death-symbols, the leaves of all the blazing trees fall to the ground. Farmers all across the land bring out their scythes, though none of them are wearing black goods, and none are so grim.

Yet it is harvest time. Let us reap what we have sown!

***

This year my fiancé, Tessandra, my step-daughter, Rosemary and I visited the Spirit Halloween store in Stillwater, Minnesota. As we selected our costumes, I looked all about, observing the macabre. It’s as if the stuff were splashed upon the walls and shelves like wild blood.

Everywhere one see’s delightful objects of death; plastic spiders; Styrofoam tombstones; little packages of eyeballs, fingers, ears!; larger-than-life-sized inflatable monsters; gigantic bags of cobwebs; costumes for every character imaginable; an assortment of rubber masks, some of them deliciously ghoulish, rendered with such impeccable detail that one is bound to recognize it for what it is – a modern art form.

A plethora of customers peruse this vast commercial inscape of hauntings. Each person seems to be smiling. I pick out a skull mask, made of rubber, and it smells of childhood. I put it on. Then I put my thick-framed glasses over the eyeholes. Rosemary dances around the isles, wearing a giant replica of a sloth’s head. Tessandra picks out items for dressing up as a scarecrow.

And, fundamentally, are not all costumes serving the function of a scarecrow — only, instead of warding off those pesky feeding ravens, we are warding off death?

No food for the worms, my dear, because we are the worms! Let us roll, wriggle, and writhe! Let us truly live our lives! Full of passion and fire, like those dying leaves of autumn!

And as we embrace (and thus, temporarily conquer) our deaths, we are never so alive!

***

An Historical Aside

How did this bizarre holiday begin? Where in the world did it originate? And for why?

The origins of Halloween are complex, mixing a variety of cultures and tradition. It began with the end-of-harvest celebration by the Gaelic pagans, a festival known as Samhain (pronounced sow-in). It was believed that on Samhain, the veil between this world and the Otherworld was thinnest, allowing for spirits to cross over with ease, and vice versa – humans could enter the Otherworld, too.

By 9 CE, the Roman Catholic Church, rather than attempting to stomp out this ancient tradition of the Celts and pagans, decided it would be easier to merge it with All Saints Day (also known as All Hollows Day), a holiday in honor of Christian saints. All Saints Day formed the season of ‘Allhallowtide’, beginning with All Saints Eve on October 31st, All Saints Day on November 1st, and All Souls Day on November 2nd.

Although Halloween is largely a result of Samhain and All Hollow’s Day merging influences, there remains other celebrations of the dead all over the globe. For example:

On October 31st, Mexicans celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), wherein family and friends celebrate and pray for the deceased. Platters of food and bottles of liquor are left out on the doorstep in the night to appease hungry and thirsty souls. Day of the Dead celebrations stretch back over 2,000 years — an invention of the Aztecs, whom dedicated the festivities to a goddess, or, “the Lady of the Dead”.

The Hungry Ghost Festival is a Buddhist/Taoist tradition which celebrates the ghosts of dead ancestors, whom are believed to return from the ‘Lower Realm’ to visit the living. This festival, also referred to as, “Ghost Month”, occurs in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan. Similar festivals occur in Japan, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka.

More annual festivals are held around the globe. Festivals which signify a change of season and commemorate the dead.

Note: For further reading about the history of Halloween, I recommend the highly informative book, Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween by Lisa Morton.

***

Like a puddle of black ink absorbed into a white napkin, Halloween has stained the fabric of my consciousness. Though there comes a time to put away childish things, the child within the man never fully dies. The fear of death, too, never dies.

Halloween, moreso than Christmas or Easter, moreso than Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve, rejuvenates the inner-child. In fact, the reason why adult Halloween costumes exist in the first place is because adults want to re-live those cherished moments from childhood. Nostalgia races through the veins, pops the head and transforms grown men and women into vampires, zombies, werewolves (and sexy nurses!) for the duration of a single night. The inner-child, at least within the custom of dressing up, gets a chance to breathe.

Now, this doesn’t mean that on Halloween night I run around naked waving a blue crayon and muttering strange incantations about Bat-Man (now wouldn’t that be frightening, even by standards of Halloween?). Not at all. Yet there are fond memories which begin to stir my addled brain. The warm memories of chilly Halloween nights go to my head like a glass of champagne. Only the champagne is orange and green, with bubbles frothy like a witch’s cauldron. Perhaps, if one were wise, one wouldn’t imbibe.

But whomever said I was wise? Allow me to illustrate a very personal, warm history of my most memorable October 31sts growing up in Northwestern Wisconsin, USA . . .

Four to Five years old.

I had not yet come close to growing in all of my teeth. Whenever I smiled, my mouth resembled the goofy jack-o-lantern sitting atop our weathered porch steps.

I remember: a plush orange jack-o-lantern, stuffed with cotton, hanging above me. Six green spider legs dangled from its rotund sides. A smile of yellow triangles were stitched across its face, complete with a triangle nose and oval eyes. Its string was attached to the ceiling. I’d jump up, high as I could, and yank on one of its green legs. It began to make noise, to vibrate and wriggle! This thing was magical. I jumped up and pulled on the legs over and over, never tiring of watching it dance and twitch.

A sunbeam, bright yellow, shone through the porch window upon the hanging toy. The sunbeam was warm. I stood in front of it along with the dancing jack-o-lantern. We were friends, Jack ‘O and I — sharing the sun before it set and the land was full of dark.

Five to six years old.

Handful of guts. They were orange and stringy, with flat, oval seeds falling onto the newspaper laid over the kitchen linoleum. I managed to remove most of the inner goo, but Mom took a plastic scoop and got all the tiny gobs I’d neglected.

I told Mom I wanted the face to look like the one from the cover of our VHS copy of John Carpenter’s Halloween. She did her best. It turned out great. In went the tea-lite candles. The faces glowed from within. Then we brought the jack-o-lanterns to the front porch, and sat them upon the steps.

The flame within the jack-o-lanterns excited me. I jumped up and down, dancing like that stuffed pumpkin on a string. Inside the hollowed pumpkins, the flame of Halloween spirit burned bright. That flame caught fire to my imagination, lit it up, and illuminated my dark dreams.

Seven to eight years old.

We lived in the country, in a century-old old farmhouse that was weathered and beaten and, truth be told, appeared quite haunted. This is the house I grew up in. It’s the one I’d thought I’d seen a ghost in. It’s the house I read and slept and wept in. But living out in the Wisconsin woods didn’t serve for quality trick-or-treating. There weren’t many houses for which to go door-to-door.

As every child knows, doors are the life-blood of tricks and treats.

My parents drove me in their van out to a neighborhood I’d never been to. We went from door to door, my long black cape flowing out behind me. The sun was setting, but I wasn’t cold — I’d been instructed to wear a sweater beneath my costume. The candy rattled when dropped in black and orange plastic buckets. An immensely satisfying sound.

For anyone passing by, I had this to say: “I am Count Dracula! I bid you welcome!”

***

The custom of ‘Trick or Treat’ has its origins rooted in ancient history, perhaps as far back as ancient Greece! Although it is more commonly regarded as originating with the festival of Samhain, wherein children would impersonate the dead, and go from door to door, singing tunes and performing for small treats. During the Christian season of ‘Allhallowtide’, children would sing and perform for ‘soul-cakes’ (merely small, round cakes) often in return for prayers.

Alternative names for this activity are “mumming” or “guising”. The custom itself didn’t become popular in the United States until the mid-1930’s. It was an activity encouraged by parents and teachers as an indirect means of discouraging the more mischievous/destructive activities children often undertook on Halloween — also sometimes referred to as, “Mischief Night”.

***

Nine years-old.

I came home from school one October evening and discovered paper pumpkins and witches plastered upon the window of the old farmhouse. This meant Mom had decorated the house without me. Yet she knew how much I loved decorating! How could she do it all on her own, without my impeccable taste for the Halloween aesthetic? Well, maybe she’d only put up the window décor . . . I raced into the house, tossing my heavy backpack into the corner with a thump.

To my great disappointment, the entire house had been decorated! I expressed my disapproval of this, then got over it pretty quick. After all, there were orange and black colors all over the walls, and cobwebs, and black cats, and stuffed ghosts, and a dancing Frankenstein’s Monster with green eyes that lit up at the touch of a yellow button and danced to ‘the monster mash’.

A boy of my temperament couldn’t be unhappy in such an environment for long.

14 to 16 years-old.

I was alone this Halloween night, although not lonely. I was too old to trick-or-treat, or so I believed. I burned away the hours within the sanctuary of my room, watching horror films on a fat Toshiba television. Night of the Living Dead. The Wolf-Man. John Carpenter’s Halloween. Then, as the red sun dawned upon the horizon, I finished up watching the original, Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

At film’s end, Sally Hardesty was driven away in the back of a pick-up truck, escaping Leatherface’s ravenous chainsaw in a matter of seconds. She was bloody from head-to-toe and laughing manically from a cold, mental snap. The sunset shone upon her blood-matted head, then cut to credits.

I looked out the window, at the rising sun, grateful I was not Sally Hardesty. Then I went to bed and slept most of November 1st away. All without a care in the world.

I didn’t even have any nightmares. I never did. I remain most at peace with everything macabre.

22 Years Old.

Tessandra, Rosemary, and I moved out of Creekside Apartments into a house on Jefferson Road. The house was crimson red with a brown roof. Every street and avenue around us was named after some American patriot or other. Washington Avenue. Lincoln Street. Marshall Street. I was grateful to be living on the street named after the best of the founding fathers – Thomas Jefferson.

In front of our house is a military memorial. Some days, I look out the front bay window over at the remembrance stones with their chiseled names and think, what if they never buried the bodies in the city cemetery? What if they buried them here, beneath this strip of green land with its circle of honorable flags? What if they were raised from the dead? What if they came shambling down the street this very moment?

Such are the thoughts of a writer – purely deranged. Purely lost in the world of, “What if?”

It was our first year in the house. We’d only just gotten comfortable. All the leaves from the black maple trees in our yard were falling from the branches, littering the ground. I spent many, many hours raking these leaves and placing them in gargantuan paper bags. By the time I had the majority of the leaves in the front and backyard stuffed into the bags, there was a lucky thirteen of them.

I stuffed as many bags as I could into the trunk of my white Buick. Then I loaded a few more bags into the backseat. They were so tall and wide, I couldn’t even see out the back window. I drove my carload of leaves to the local compost center.

I was not expecting this compost to be magical, but it was. And in no way am I exaggerating.

I drove past the yellow ochre fields with the spindling leaves falling from the trees and the chilly wind pushing against all sides of the Buick. I drove through an open gate and down a gravel road and parked at the center of the compost dump. I got out of the car.

All around me were immense, beautiful hills of dead leaves. Pumpkin orange, crimson red, banana yellow, rusty brown and all the spectrum of the autumn rainbow were featured in the blazing colors of the hills. Jack-o-lanterns were tossed and smashed here and there, their faces rotting and drying out in the sun in a glory of death. Flies buzzed.

The sun was going down, spreading colors to the electric sky. White, puffy clouds became inked in pink and red, shrouding the hills of leaves and pumpkin guts with brilliant aura.

It was a Halloween Wasteland, dazzling in a rarefied ruby.

And I could not help but think, what if . . . what if I saw someone’s hand, pale as a lily, stretched out beneath one of the big hills of leaves, perhaps beneath a particularly soggy patch? What would I do? Would I call the police straight away, or would I approach it first? See if the hand twitched upon my lightest touch. See if it grabbed my ankle . . .

23 Years Old.

The haunted farmhouse where I grew up had been abandoned and long since burned down. This year’s jack-o-lanterns were to be made at my parent’s new house, still located in a rural area, not within woods, but surrounded by cornfields and farms with horses grazing the grassy fields. Tessandra, Rosemary and I spent the evening with my parents and my younger siblings, gutting pumpkins, carving faces, using the best of our creative abilities to turn them into cute, slightly maniacal characters.

Then we got dressed up and went out to dinner, then to the Hudson Cinema to watch Goosebumps 2. We thought this might be a healthier outing than ‘trick-or-treating’, and it was. Although the film wasn’t great, ten-year-old Rosemary seemed to have a good time, and her excitement was palpable.

It was the same excitement she expressed while dancing around a few weeks back with a giant’s sloth’s head upon her shoulders! The same excitement that remains buried within my child’s heart, only to be rekindled by a spark of Rosemary’s happiness.

And I think back to being six years old, admiring the handiwork of our jack-o-lanterns upon the weathered porch steps; their gentle, maniacal grins glowing from within.

Within.

That is where all true hallows glow.

Happy frights to you, dear reader, and

A Happy Halloween.

 

Your friend,

Tylor James.

October, 2019.

A Short Walk with Randolph Metzger (SHORT STORY)

They hauled him, black bag over his head, through the jeering crowd, toward the gallows. He endured the wild curses, demands, and insults as one does with a cold wind. He accepted, and shivered. But what hurt him, what affected him, was hearing them shout his name…

My own name, he thought. Why does it make me cringe? What is it about a title I’ve had since birth that brings these shivers up my spine? Makes my hair stand on end? Gives me gooseflesh?

Randolph Metzger.

A name given to me by my mother, not without a lofty pride. It was my grandfather’s name. My grandfather – a heritage of honor, a noble Captain of a ship. My grandfather the courageous explorer, loving husband to my Grandmother Rosemary, and lifelong giver of alms to the poor. By all accounts, my grandfather was a great man.

By all accounts, I am not.

Hence, up ahead. The gallows. I see only black. But I know that noose is there all the same. It’s almost as if I can smell it…swinging to and fro, in the wind. It smells of an odd mixture of pine, sweat, and desperation…

A shiver ran up his spine. His spine was like a long fuse, burning up into explosions of fear inside his brain. His temples throbbed. His knees began to tremble.

So this is how my life ends, thought Randolph Metzger. As a short, nightmare walk toward grim fate. With blackened sight. With hatred, stuffed into my ears. With cold, hard prods from the guards, and sharp jabs and gobs of spit from this stupid, undulating mass of serfs.

Ah, but there is a brighter side. There is, there is.

Just think! I could be spending the remainder of my days like these fools. Sweating away the years, giving all, having nothing, starving, suffering, proffering sins, aching for a better life after death. Ha!

And there lies the rub. Life after Death, the only thing – the only delusion! – that makes this life the least bit tolerable.

As any wise man knows, if he is wiser than St. Thomas Aquinas, there is no such thing. These poor fools! These lousy, damned Idiots! What do they know with their shouts and damnations? They know only hatred and stupidity and work – that is their lot in service to the King. That is their life.

Why in hell would I ever want a part in that?

Yet even if there is some paradisiacal after-life, it won’t be for me. Not with the things I’ve done.

Indeed. If there be a Pearly Gates, they are open to some, closed to others, and yet barricaded with chains, locks, and hexes for those rare wicked, debauched souls like Randolph Metzger.

For Randolph Metzger the sign slapped across those golden Gates reads loud and clear:

KEEP OUT!

The guard on his left rammed an elbow into his gut.

“HAULT!” he screamed.

“What, god damn you? What?!”

“The stairs! Step UP!”

Randolph stepped up, then up again, and up, up. A new pain radiated up his left leg, following the track of his spine, exploding ghastly fireworks inside his brain again.

My head, oh my head, he thought. Wouldn’t it be a beauty if it just exploded, right here upon the gallow steps?

Randolph imagined his pink, fleshy brains littering the imbecile crowd all ‘round him in one great BLAST! — a cranium ignited by pain and fear and set to fracture, split, and fly all in one breath!

Oh, how they would scream!

The crowd cheered madly as Randolph shambled onto the stage. It was one hell of a great show and – by god! – he was the star of it. The closest he’d ever gotten to the gallows was as a child, when forced by parents and instructors to act in those cute little theater plays of Sophocles and Aristophanes.

Look at me now, ma! He thought, laughing wildly beneath black cloth.

The guards looked at each other and scowled. One of them struck a blow to his stomach. Randolph doubled over in agony. They jerked his shoulders back, forcing him straight again.

“What!” Randolph hissed. “Pray tell, a man cannot have a bit of fun at his own funeral?”

“Funeral?” shouted a guard. “There is no funeral for you, Randolph Metzger! The world should never provide you such fortune – You do not deserve it. No. For you, there is only execution. Justice!”

The guards dragged him to center stage. He now stood upon the trap door, which felt no different to his feet than the rest of the stage. He knew he was standing on it all the same. That cold wind blew again, carrying the sea of shouts and voices even closer to his ears. He drowned in that sea, but did not shiver, did not twitch. They put the noose around Randolph Metzger’s neck, snugging it tight.

Why fear what is deserved? He thought. Why fear at all? What is there at the end of this rope other than the inevitable? I am to be swallowed up by black nothingness. The void. The thing that exists for all mankind before birth…so what?

The shouts from the crowd grew ever more excited. Damnations, condemnations, or insults, it was no matter. He was becoming used to it.

So I never followed in my grandfather’s footsteps. I’ve ever had any desire to! I was never a kind man, compassionate man, a loving man…this is perhaps the most loving I’ve ever been. Here on the gallows, wind shivering my body, enduring the hatred of my country…this! I love all of this! I have walked a short life…yet I have walked in steps true to me and only me. This, I love. This, where I belong.

A voice, novel and foreign, shouted from the stage.

“QUIET! QUIET!” demanded the voice.

The crowd simmered to a low boil, leaving the air heavy, thick. The wind blew. The shivers on Randolph’s spine were pleasurable now, almost sensuous.

My god! he thought. I’ve never felt so alive!

“Randolph A. Metzger,” the voice boomed. “You have lived a life of thievery, decadence and murder. You have cheated and exploited every living soul you’ve ever known. Therefore, you have been condemned to execution by your King and country. You are hereby sentenced to be hung from the neck until you are dead. Have you any last words?”

“Yes,” Randolph replied without pause. “My last words are for my children. I know not their names, nor their homes, nor do I care. Yet if they ever become curious of their old man, and inquire to their mothers about my existence, they ought to know this:

“I, Randolph Metzger, am by all accounts a great man. My children shall know I am honorable heritage, for I am captain of my life. I am honest to my own Self, for one must always be honest if they are to live outside the law. I am a lover of widows and wenches, of money and of fools – murdered. I am a lifelong thief of the rich and poor alike, for all men and ladies are equal before my eyes. For all of them, as good as rats! Thus it is with great happiness that I be condemned – for it means I shall rest, at last, free and dreamless, of the stupid, mindless torrents of this plagued world!”

The crowd grew ever angrier. They threw stones, soiled fruit, whatever they could get their hands on. None of these flew high enough to strike their desired target – the man in the noose whom laughs.

“May the Lord have mercy on your soul!”

A guard pulled the creaking lever. The trapdoor swung open with a clatter, and Randolph dropped through.

SNAP!

The body came to a sudden mid-air hang as the neck broke. Somehow, the black bag around his head had dropped, leaving the face exposed. He appeared handsome, peaceful.

Randolph Metzger swung to and fro, a lifeless pendulum in a cold wind that no longer brought cold, nor shivers, nor wind.

 

 

© April 2019. Tylor J. Mintz. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Proverbs: Liars, Writers, Death & Fashionable Nonsense.

My girlfriend tells me that I have no fashion sense. Which isn’t quite the truth. The truth is that what I have is fashionable nonsense. Two socks of different colors don’t necessary equal a wrong if it’s done on purpose, y’know?

*

Compulsive liars also happen to be very creative people. Hence the reason why they are always “making stuff up”.

*

At times, I am overcome with the sensation that I am a clown of the universe. Others just nod their head and agree.

*

Death may be considered the final transcendence – the transcendence of consciousness itself. Death is an ultimate union with the nothing.

*

For writers, there is great value to be found in reading both fiction and non-fiction books. While reading fiction, one may pick up on elements of style, character development, and how to unravel a story. While reading non-fiction, such as a science or history book, one is consuming objective information, which in turn initiates personal reflection. These reflections will create images and sensations within the mind which may later be utilized in one’s own writing.

*

Life seems far more tangible if one can make an art out of it. Hence why, for me, writing about my life is a way of concretizing my experiences.

*

The self seems necessary for transcendence. For what could ever be transcended without something to transcend? Herein lies the value of the Self, the source of all our suffering.

*

Our greatest addiction is thought itself. Just try not thinking about it.

*

I walk down the booming street with cars zooming to and fro and everyone in a hustle and hurry with a place to go while really going nowhere at all. Everyone is in constant motion while living out their lives in a deathly stand-still. I have no doubt that this culture is a symptomatic sickness, a neurosis — a psychosis, perhaps. Yes. I am sure of it. We are a society of insane patients, living out meaningless, senseless, and idiotic lives. We spend our weeks chained to self-imposed obligations, choked on caffeine. We spend our weekends in brief respite, pretending to be free. All the while we forebode the future, numbing ourselves with liquor, television, and drugs. We do it all in the name of God, country and family. Is there ever an end to this madness? Are we but prisoners condemned by the judge of ourselves?

Clink your bones, baby. We are a mass graveyard dance!

Ponderings: History, Suicide, Eternity, and Just Words!

Forget trying to do good! Simply be good. What follows this inner-constitution of goodness will be inevitable.

*

Everything matters, but only in the sense that everything is matter.

*

History is the stain of time. It is like the jelly trail of a retarded slug!

*

I promise never to write or say anything for as long as I die.

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Suicide is breaking up with your long-time Self. Mortality is our wedding ring to life. The upside to suicide is, there need be no lawyers to consul this particular brand of divorce.

*

People are either dead or pre-conceived for billions of years, practically an eternity, in comparison to their sunspot years of life. Seventy-six years and the cosmos does not batter an eyelash. Ten generations come and dissipate and the cosmos barely blinks. Am I supposed to be acting serious right now? I will leave the acting to the actors, I believe. I’ve got better things to do…like, live my life as authentically as possible while I still have it.

Don’t blink.

*

My identity wishes for immortality. My soul laughs and asks, “Why on Earth would you wish for such a ridiculous thing?”

*

To keep the ignorant youth more humble and a little less ignorant – instruct them to read Socrates, whom often said, “The only thing I know is that I know nothing.”

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Just a wholesome reminder: We imprint ourselves upon our reality at almost all times. This is why objectivity can often be so difficult. If you want to perceive with clarity, forget about yourself for a while. Let the ego take a backseat.

*

Justice for the Criminals

We have heard this phrase regurgitated time and again. The “Criminal Justice System”. It infers justice, but for whom? For criminals? Well, at long last! The law-abiding citizens of this country have accosted us with their mindless good behavior for far too long. Finally, justice shall be served!

I feel the same way about “Freedom Fighters”. Fire fighters fight fires. Freedom fighters fight…what? You guessed it!

***

If we are “not our body” as spiritual minded people are apt to say, why then, does it appear that we cease to exist once the mechanisms for our consciousness, our being, ceases to exist? Bodily death is Being death. This seems so obvious to me…

Death accepts us all equally, yet we do not accept death. Death is an embrace into nothingness, into a state of pre-birth. Humans have yet to embrace death, as they are mostly busy clinging to life. Fear has rattled our brains with attachments from the start. Yet death remains the eternal good sport, laughing good naturedly at our absurdity, all with an empty black twinkle in his eye.

***

I write such cruel things, sometimes. And yet I always feel so much better for it. For me, to be a writer is to be a harmless sadist. The pen and paper are my tools of torture. Tortured by the universe, I torture the universe right back. Sometimes it is as if whole stars were ripping in two, screaming out all their luminescent, solarized guts upon the page. Word after word, my pen chisels away at eternity.

All the while eternity chisels away at me.

***

The collar and tie,

A casual ball and chain.

***

Life is the ragged climb to a flat line.

***

Only death can steal you from your Self.

***

I just watched the sun dribble away from my fingertips, slipping off the world like a holy egg yolk, blessed into the great beyond. I am alone, writing, with the blackened outside dawning through my windows. I can see little pin-points of light shining through the black canvas, like worn immaturities in God’s reality fabric. How those little pin-points bedeck me with hope!

Holy men and women pray for the universe to unveil itself so that we may discover what we really are. I know what we really are. We are the universe, composed of an identical fabric, shining through our consciousness. Look up into the heavens and behold the distant, wistful stars of this galaxy, located in the wild flesh and genes called human.

***

Just Words

The world is a vast complex simplified into “the world”; a general meaning utilized for common reference. This is what language has done for us. It has taken the inconceivable abstractions of our universe and compacted it into symbolic little packages which we call, words. Let us consider the “Universe”, a mere word which entails stars, galaxies, vast amounts of space (vaster than vast), solar flares, supernovas, black holes, worm holes, quasars, electrons, protons, neutrons, photons, quarks, matter & anti-matter, cosmic acceleration, at least four dimensions, orbits, satellites, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, intelligent life (some say we are an example of this, and some are still not sure this is the case), on and on to literally ad infinitum! Language is an invention which has surpassed our ability to imagine – indeed, much of our imagination is based upon linguistic structure. Our consciousness has been tainted – nay, infected – with language!

All of this, of course, is just words.

Protocol (poem)

I was sitting alone in a booth

At the Next Door Café,

When one of the regulars, an old guy,

Fell from his chair to the floor,

Clutching his chest,

His hands grasping for his heart.

“Somebody called 911!” yelled somebody.

Everyone gathered around him,

As the last of an omelet

Dribbled from one corner of his wet mouth.

 

Everyone was slightly panicked, weirded out,

Not knowing quite what to do.

One of the old guys’ friends pulled off his jacket

Wadded it up, placed it under his head for a pillow.

 

About eight minutes later,

Maybe seven minutes after the poor old fellow

Had been lying on the floor

Motionless and not breathing,

The ambulance had arrived, sirens blaring.

Grim-faced paramedics loaded him on the stretcher

with a frenzied calm.

 

Then the ambulance sped like mad

To Westfields Hospital,

Sirens bursting ear drums,

Forcing the other cars on the road

To pull over to the side

As they brushed by.

 

Once arrived at the hospital,

They wheeled the cooling body

To the emergency room.

 

The old man,

15 minutes after the fact,

Was pronounced dead.

Nobody was at all surprised,

But this is just the kind of thing you do,

I guess.

 

What do they call it?

Ah, yes.

Protocol.

 

The morning concluded

Upon a prompt call to the coroner.

A Few Ponderings: The Deathless Death of Man, The Hell-bent Heavens, and the Resurrection of Carl Linneaus.

An Uncharming Paradox

The evangelical Christian is little more than a vastly uncharming paradox, as he is hell-bent on his faith in a future vision of heavenly destruction — the end of times, as described in the book of Revelation, wherein Jeeeesus will return to us, so they believe, once more.

Such delusional dogmatists might accurately be described as being hell-bent for heaven.

***

Man, the Wise

Even the name which our species has greedily awarded itself (homo sapiens, Latin for “man, the wise“) signifies an over-abundance of arrogance and hubris. Why could we not be more humble in our desire for self-taxonomy? Why not instead “man, the curious” or “man, the hopeful“? History has shown our species to be an audacious one, a rather fascinating and violent collection of mammals, but wise? I dare think not!

So, I hereby resurrect the good Carl Linneaus from his grave at Uppsala by the powers of my deranged imagination! Let us have a cold pint, Carl, down at the nearest Swedish tavern, so that we may earnestly discuss our Latin wisdom…

***

Death, Conquered

The day humankind conquers death through the ingeniousness of medical science will, ironically, require the death of us all. Upon the attainment of immortality, that infinite condition of the Gods, we will have snubbed out the human man and replaced him with an immortal being. Man will have downgraded himself to the status of a God — and what a lowly god he will be! Although he will be no more lowly than the God of the bible or Quran, or the gods of Olympus and ancient Egypt. We will undoubtedly continue to pursue our own footsteps of endless folly, just as those ignoble deities of ancient scripture. Every hatred and stupidity will be committed to a re-cyclical progression, a savage history set upon mindless repeat. Like a single wave breaking upon the land, always to be followed by the ocean.

Upon the “achievement” of permanence and immortality, humankind will have, in a sense, come around full circle. Man started out believing that he was made in God’s image, when it is rather more likely that man created God in his image. Taking it another logical step further, upon acquiring status of deity, man will have finally created himself in the image of God.

His golden staff will be a sort of complex, technical crutch. His blinding light will be an artificial luminescence. His tissue will be sown to a bodily permanence by a freakish series of subatomic stitches beyond even Mary Shelley’s grotesque imagination. And finally His attained immortality will be an ever-strange zombification of His former humanity.

Man Bless! 

 

Blessings of Nothing & The Curse of Immortality

Our existence is structured, framed and given ambition and purpose through the perceived presence of the Nothing. Without death dispensing the flesh from our bones and the consciousness from our brains, without the due process of time and the phenomena of entropy and age, in what dastardly hell would we find ourselves? In other words, if we were not mortal, what possible freedom and purpose could there be invented for our means of existing?

Death provides human beings with much needed liberation from the chains of living — it is only sad or unfortunate that at times this liberation can take place unsuspectingly. Death comes whether we are ready, or not. If we are to accept these things with Stoic temperance, we might say, “such is life”.

Humanity has a difficult enough time providing purpose and meaning to their lives as it is. Imagine the hollow and empty hell of an immortality! Some human beings are ready and eager for non-existence by the time they are seventy-five or eighty. They are like ripe fruit, fit to be picked, ready to fall. Imagine being five hundred and eighty years old! (Perhaps at this point we would dispense with the obvious euphemism “years young” and openly accept our own antiquity). I imagine Immorality would be fun for a few minutes. Then reality would set in and the repetition of life would drown us with insurmountable sorrow. Immortality is meant for unconscious things, such as subatomic particles, energy and the like. But we conscious humans are not fit for it. Morality is copacetic only with mortality, and nothing beyond.

I think now of the common goals and ambitions of the race. I think of goals and ambitions of the common individual. “I want to obtain my PHD by the time I’m twenty-six.” or “I want to live a life of travel. I want to see France and Spain and the Netherlands!” Well, cursed with an immortality — what need would there be to strive for that PHD? You’ve got all the time in the universe. As for world travel, you might circle the globe a million times or more. What left is there to see after the first few hundred years? Futility and boredom breeds sorrow in the Immortal Man. Perhaps we should pity the Gods, should they exist. Can we truly blame them for creating such a faulted and entertaining species such as ourselves? Humankind is the ultimate comedic tragedy and we would undoubtedly make for some fantastic, cosmic theater for any outside observers. We would be a wonderful distraction.

Getting back to the Void, the Nothing….just as the purpose of a bowl is to hold things, it cannot do so without the emptiness which shapes the rest of it. The Buddhists call this emptiness, this nothingness and void, sunyata. Just as without the nothingness which gives purpose to the bowl to hold things, without the nothingness which circumvents our lifespan and all of humanly existence, mankind would be without pleasure or purpose to live. So, I say, let us be thankful and grateful for nothing!

Nothing, the thing which is no thing, by virtue of its definition does not exist. Yet its non-being is immediate and felt everywhere, like a phantom embrace. It is herein that humankind subscribes to these non-values of nothing and are remarkably all the better for it.

Good day to my beloved readers, and sunyata!

Musings on Time, Death, Nationalism, and Great President Dukkha!

The Great President Dukkha

When someone tells me something I find to be inherently wrong, facetious, or dishonest, I tend to reply to them — “What a unpleasing load of Dukkha!”

Dukkha is the ancient Pali word for ‘suffering’, often used in the context of Buddhist philosophy and teachings. Meanwhile, the free people of the United Corporations of Amnesia have elected the Great, President Dukkha with his flop of yellow hair and blemished face stained by permanent disgrace, selfish pride and ego. President Dukkha wants to make the nation great again through a grand unification of His Dukkha-ness!

Indeed, we are a nation bound and united by our Dukkha.

***

How to Pass the Time

Let’s say you’re at an obligatory social function — a day job, for example — and are very eager for the day to pass so that you may be spending time on the things or people you most enjoy. All you need to remember is that time does not need your attention to pass! Whether you want the clock to move faster or slower, all those minutes and hours will pass irregardless — that is to say, irrespective of your individual wishes and desires.

One cannot control the due motion of the planets, the revolutions of the galaxy, nor the progression of life. Time is among the many things we cannot control. Let it be as such. One should remain unconcerned and detached from these things as far as possible. Let the clock hands move round those twelve numerals completely unmolested by your eagerness. This is to say — we should adopt a Stoic attitude about the passing of time. This perspective is useful not only for just our obligatory social functions, but perhaps for our varying prison and solitary confinement sentences as well…

***

Old Friend Death

The best we can do in this absurd existence is to laugh with joyful, knowing smiles and raise our middle-finger salute to the Gods that are not there; and upon Death’s door, knock as if to greet an old, kind friend. Death will let you in gracefully, with a tender smile on your face and a rebel’s good charm.

***

This Is A Moment

Moments are bits of life that are well known for passing us by very quickly. This is a moment. And now it is read and gone. All of your life is but a moment. Be aware of this preciousness before it is used up and gone.

The cosmic eye blinks and all of humanity rises and falls as if belonging to one unsteady breath. First the cosmos, then chaos and dissipation, then the Nothing.

Moments of wisdom,

moments of knowing.

All fleeting and flowing

just as sure as the wind is blowing. 

***

Not for the Feint of Heart

It takes a certain amount of courage and activated virtue in the attempt to see things as they are and not as how we would wish them to be. This is true for the micro, personal dramas of our lives as well as for the nation state of political objectivity, and the macro, universal scientific and philosophic realities of our existence. To see with clarity, using the scientific method, is the noble pursuit. To see with utmost faith in our wishes, is often poetic — yet cowardly.

It is far too easy and weak minded for us to adopt delusions to suit our preferred realities. Anyone with a care or regard for the truth ought to strip themselves of these comforting delusions as best they can. I once read a disclaimer on the back of a horror film which read, “Not for the feint of heart!” The same, I think, can often be said for the Truth.

***

Nationalism

Nationalism, state-worship, is little more than a form of big egotism pushed to its limits. It is a grand-scale absurdity supported by the mindless masses oppressed by advertising and propaganda machines dedicated to maintaining the power and agenda of the elite.

Unquestioning faith and pride in the state, the myth of singular exceptionalism, the mindless parade of flags and semi-conscious slogans, and other forms of patriotic, national self-worship serve as the mere degradation to individual uniqueness and citizenry ability to critically think on their own terms. Nationalism (Big Egotism) surrenders the positive, creative and intellectual ego of the common man and substitutes it for the negative ego that perpetuates stupidity and pride.

And pride, as we well know, comes before the fall.

***

Nationalism II

Perhaps a nation based on innovation and creativity, on a truly educated and self-realized populace, and on humanism as opposed to merciless self-worship and cruel military imperialism would be a manifestation of a truly positive identity of the citizenry. I can imagine the flag of states being re-organized into a flag of humanity. Every star is a human with infinite potential, and all the thirteen stripes are a different color representative of our human nature with its wide spectrum of good and bad, yin and yang, virtue and sin, etc. I envision a flag that is humble and honest, representative of love, acceptance, and the virtue and strength in the development of human potential…

Meanwhile the oligarchic, plutocratic powers that be are scowling down upon my scrawl; and with their fists clenched tightly ’round their billions of lobbying money and their senator’s and Supreme Court Justice’s necks, they shake their fattened heads and exclaim (not without spittle downed upon their blubbering lips), “Dream on, peace boy, dream on!”